I have been in a long-distance relationship for about two years now. Whenever I mention this to people, they usually say something like, “Oh, that must be so hard for you!” And yes, it does have its challenges.
But in today’s world of high-speed Internet and reliable cell phones, it’s not as hard as some people might think for me to stay in touch with my fiancee, Britny. There are a variety of ways to stay connected, even across time zones. This begs the question: which ones are the best?
Dr. Albert Mehrabian, a professor emeritus of psychology at UCLA, said the words we say account for 7 percent of what we communicate, and clues like tone and inflection account for 38 percent. The other 55 percent is made of nonverbal clues, such as body language and posture. So naturally, modes that include as many of these aspects as possible are going to be more effective at conveying messages.
Every person and relationship is different, and different modes of communication work better for some than for others. Here are a few of the ways people stay connected over long distances.
Sites like Facebook and Twitter are many people’s first Internet stops in the morning. Status dates and photo sharing are a cinch, and Facebook’s live chat option makes it easy to carry on a conversation with someone without too much hassle.
Texting is a great way to ask a quick question or send a cute little love note out of the blue. If you have a smartphone, carrying on a conversation through text messages is about as easy as doing the same thing on Facebook — though it’s a good idea to make sure your phone hasn’t autocorrected something horribly wrong into your message.
Britny and I love to share our work with each other. She’s a graphic designer, and I’m a writer, so most of what we do is on our computers or a network somewhere. However, social media and texting don’t work very well when she’s trying to show me her latest poster design. Email, on the other hand, works very well for sending those giant files and lengthy text documents back and forth, and if you have a lot to say, it’s a lot easier to send an email than try to type it all on a phone.
Yeah, letters and the post office still exist! Although it’s more expensive, and slower than email or texting, snail mail can also be more personal. Sending someone a letter shows that you put in more time and effort than just sending a quick text, and it’s nice to be able to hold something that special someone bought — or better, made —for you.
Unlike text, the spoken word lets you hear inflections and tone that you can’t get as easily by reading. As I mentioned earlier, the words we say account for 7 percent of what we communicate, and other verbal clues account for 38 percent. Being able to hear that 38 percent makes a huge difference.
Video calling software, such as Face Time or Skype, allows you to pick on a lot of non-verbal facial cues. Facebook and Google also have a video calling options. Video calling requires a good Internet connection, but it’s well worth it. Communication is an important part of any relationship; deciding what medium to use is to you.